Search
  • Helen McIlveen

#WeddingInspo... alternative readings

Updated: Aug 25

A collection of wedding readings for your ceremony


Everything I know About Love, by Dolly Alderton


I know that love can be loud and jubilant…It can be dancing in the swampy mud and the pouring rain at a festival and shouting “YOU ARE AMAZING” over the band. It’s introducing them to your colleagues at a work event and basking in pride as they make people laugh and make you look lovable just by dint of being loved by them.


It’s laughing until you wheeze.


It’s waking up in a country neither of you have been in before.


It’s skinny-dipping at dawn. It’s walking along the street together on a Saturday night and feeling an entire city is yours.


It’s a big, beautiful, ebullient force of nature.


I also know that love is a pretty quiet thing.


It’s lying on the sofa together drinking coffee, talking about where you’re going to go that morning to drink more coffee. It’s folding down pages of books you think they’d find interesting.


It’s hanging up their laundry when they leave the house having moronically forgotten to take it out of the washing machine.


It’s saying ‘You’re safer here than in a car’ as they hyperventilate on an EasyJet flight to Dublin.


It’s the texts: ‘Hope your day goes well’, ‘How did today go?’, ‘Thinking of you today’ and ‘Picked up loo roll’.


I know that love happens under the splendour of moon and stars and fireworks and sunsets but it also happens when you’re lying on blow-up airbeds in a childhood bedroom, sitting in A&E or in the queue for a passport, or in a traffic jam.


Love is a quiet, reassuring, relaxing, pottering, pedantic, harmonious hum of a thing; something you can easily forget is there, even though its palms are outstretched beneath you in case you fall.


Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney

Masons, when they start upon a building,

Are careful to test out the scaffolding;


Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,

Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.


And yet all this comes down when the job’s done

Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.


So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be

Old bridges breaking between you and me


Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall

Confident that we have built our wall.


Extract from 'Love Actually'

Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.


‘I’ll Be There’ by Louise Cuddon

ll be there, my darling, through thick and through thin

When your mind’s in a mess and your head’s in a spin

When your plane’s been delayed, and you’ve missed the last train.

When life is just threatening to drive you insane

When your thrilling whodunit has lost its last page

When somebody tells you, you’re looking your age

When your coffee’s too cool, and your wine is too warm

When the forecast said, “Fine,” but you’re out in a storm

When your quick break hotel, turns into a slum

And your holiday photos show only your thumb

When you park for five minutes in a resident’s bay

And return to discover you’ve been towed away

When the jeans that you bought in hope or in haste

Just stick on your hips and don’t reach round your waist

When the food you most like brings you out in red rashes

When as soon as you boot up the bloody thing crashes

So my darling, my sweetheart, my dear…

When you break a rule, when you act the fool

When you’ve got the flu, when you’re in a stew

When you’re last in the queue, don’t feel blue

’cause I’m telling you, I’ll be there.


Wedding Reading From Books: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I have for the first time found what I can truly love—I have found you. You are my sympathy—my better self—my good angel; I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my center and spring of life, wraps my existence about you—and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.


‘The Amber Spyglass’ by Phillip Pullman

“I will love you forever; whatever happens. Till I die and after I die, and when I find my way out of the land of the dead, I’ll drift about forever, all my atoms, till I find you again… I’ll be looking for you, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me.”


'Wild Awake' by Hilary T. Smith

People are like cities: we all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.


Extract from 'Meet Joe Black'

Love is passion, obsession, someone you can't live without. If you don't start with that, what are you going to end up with? Fall head over heels. I say find someone you can love like crazy and who'll love you the same way back. And how do you find him? Forget your head and listen to your heart. I'm not hearing any heart. Run the risk, if you get hurt, you'll come back. Because, the truth is there is no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love—well, you haven't lived a life at all. You have to try. Because if you haven't tried, you haven't lived.


'Marry your Best Friend' by Anonymous

Marry your best friend.

I do not say that lightly.

Really, truly find the strongest,

Happiest friendship

In the person you fall in love with.

Someone who speaks highly of you.

Someone you can laugh with.

The kind of laughs that make

Your belly ache, and your nose snort.

The embarrassing, earnest, healing kind of laughs.

Wit is important.

Life is too short not to love someone

Who lets you be a fool with them.

Make sure they are somebody

Who lets you cry, too.

Despair will come.

Find someone that you want

To be there with you

Through those times.

Most importantly,

Marry the one that makes passion,

Love, and madness combine

And course through you.


A love that will never dilute -

Even when the waters get deep, and dark.


‘Yes, I’ll Marry You My Dear’ by Pam Ayres

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear.

And here’s the reason why.

So I can push you out of bed

When the baby starts to cry.

And if we hear a knocking

And it’s creepy and it’s late,

I hand you the torch you see,

And you investigate.

Yes I’ll marry you, my dear,

You may not apprehend it,

But when the tumble-drier goes

It’s you that has to mend it.

You have to face the neighbour

Should our labrador attack him,

And if a drunkard fondles me

It’s you that has to whack him.

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear,

You’re virile and you’re lean,

My house is like a pigsty

You can help to keep it clean.

That sexy little dinner

Which you served by candlelight,

As I do chipolatas,

You can cook it every night!!!

It’s you who has to work the drill

And put up curtain track,

And when I’ve got PMT it’s you who gets the flak,

I do see great advantages,

But none of them for you,

And so before you see the light,

I DO, I DO, I DO!!


Rainbow Connections’ by Garfunkel & Oates

Just after the storm breaks,

With the perfect amount of light,

You can catch a glimpse of magic

If the timing is right.

Rainbows are improbable, beautiful, and rare,

But so are you, and so is this, the love that we share.

Too vast to hold, and too small to name

It's no wonder why

You have to stand between the rain and the sun

To see a rainbow in the sky.

All the things that had to go right,

All the things that had to go wrong

That lead us to the place where we were going all along.

Right now they fall away,

Right now it's just us two,

Right now we make a promise:

If you do, then I do too.

Don't know how we found it,

But we did somehow.

All the moments of our lives,

Were leading up to now.

I used to feel uncertain,

But now I realize

When I want to see my future,

I just look into your eyes.

Too vast to hold, and too small to name

It's no wonder why

You have to stand between the rain and the sun

To see a rainbow in the sky.

All the things that make you - you,

All the things that make me - me,

That lead us to the place where we were always meant to be.

Right now they fall away

Right now it's just us two,

Right now we make a promise.

If you do, then I do too.

A rainbow doesn't choose to be a rainbow,

It just shines in the sky,

And there's nothing to debate

And there's nothing to deny.

Love might be a privilege,

But marriage is right,

So to all of you detractors

Who don't know you've lost the fight,

To all of you in the darkness

We're here turning on the lights.

Now I stand with you,

For the world to see,

My love, my dreams, and me

My love, my dreams, and me.

Right now they fall away,

Right now it's just us two,

Right now we make a promise:

If you do, then I do too.


‘Doctor Zhivago’ by Boris Pasternak

Oh, what a love it was, utterly free, unique, like nothing else on earth! their thoughts were like other people’s songs.

They loved each other, not driven by necessity, by the ‘blaze of passion’ often falsely ascribed to love. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet. Perhaps their surrounding world, the strangers they met in the street, the wide expanses they saw on their walks, the rooms in which they lived or met, took more delight in their love than they themselves did.


'Chapter One of One Thousand' by O.J. Preston

For two people this dawn brought on a magical day

Now husband and wife they head on their way

As a boat setting sail may their journey begin

With calmest of waters, most helpful of wind

And if they should stumble upon turbulent sea

May it pass them unharming - leave them be.


For here are two people whom love has well bitten

Here opens their book which has yet to be written

As the first page unfolds and their life inks its path

May it write a true story where forever love lasts

Let their journey be happy till death do they part

Of one thousand chapters may this be the start.


From ‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë

‘I have for the first time found what I can truly love - I have found you. You are my sympathy - my better self - my good angel; I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wraps my existence about you - and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.’

Game of Thrones - Khaleesi and Khal Drogo's Wedding Vows

"As you are the Moon of his life, he shall be your Sun and Stars. Your love shall be as ever present as those two celestial bodies...even though they are sometimes hidden from one another's sight. Your love will be the guiding force that charts the course of your tomorrows, holds your world together in difficult times, and will make life itself shine bolder and brighter than we human beings have a right to dream of."


Extract from ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ by Louis de Bernières

Love is a temporary madness,

it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.

And when it subsides you have to make a decision.

You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together

that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.

Because this is what love is.

Love is not breathlessness,

it is not excitement,

it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.

That is just being “in love” which any fool can do.

Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,

and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,

and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,

they find that they are one tree and not two.


‘Us Two’ by A.A. Milne (extract)

Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,

There’s always Pooh and Me.

Whatever I do, he wants to do,

“Where are you going today?” says Pooh:

“Well, that’s very odd ‘cos I was too.

Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he.

“Let’s go together,” says Pooh.

… “I wasn’t afraid,” said Pooh, said he,

“I’m never afraid with you.”

So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,

There’s always Pooh and Me.

“What would I do?” I said to Pooh,

“If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True,

It isn’t much fun for One, but Two,

Can stick together, says Pooh, says he. “That’s how it is,” says Pooh


“Make You Feel My Love” by Bob Dylan


"When the rain is blowing in your face,

And the whole world is on your case,

I could offer you a warm embrace

To make you feel my love.


When the evening shadows and the stars appear,

And there is no one there to dry your tears,

I could hold you for a million years

To make you feel my love.


I know you haven’t made your mind up yet,

But I will never do you wrong.

I’ve known it from the moment that we met,

No doubt in my mind where you belong.


I’d go hungry; I’d go black and blue,

And I’d go crawling down the avenue.

No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do

To make you feel my love.


The storms are raging on the rolling sea

And on the highway of regret.

The winds of change are blowing wild and free,

You ain’t seen nothing like me yet.


I could make you happy, make your dreams come true.

Nothing that I wouldn’t do.

Go to the ends of the Earth for you,

To make you feel my love

To make you feel my love"


‘A Lovely Love Story’ by Edward Monkton

"The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice. Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage. Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur. The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts. “I like this Dinosaur,” thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. “Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny. He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.” “I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur,” thought the Dinosaur. “She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice. She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.” “But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times,” thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. “He is also overly fond of things. Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things?” “But her mind skips from here to there so quickly,” thought the Dinosaur. “She is also uncommonly keen on shopping. Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?” “I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things,” thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur, “for they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.” “I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping,” thought the Dinosaur, “for she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either.” Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old. Look at them. Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs. And that, my friends, is how it is with love. Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together. For the sun is warm. And the world is a beautiful place."


‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’ by Dr Seuss

Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

…Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!

You’ll be seeing great sights!

You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.

Because, sometimes, you won’t.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!

So… be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So… get on your way!


'A Farewell to Arms' by Ernest Hemingway

At night, there was the feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone. Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. we were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.


'Love me When I'm Old' by Bee Rawlinson

Love me when I’m old and shocking

Peel off my elastic stockings

Swing me from the chandeliers

Let’s be randy bad old dears


Push around my chromed Bath Chair

Let me tease your white chest hair

Scaring children, swapping dentures

Let us have some great adventures


Take me to the Dogs and Bingo

Teach me how to speak the lingo

Bone my eels and bring me tea

Show me how it’s meant to be


Take me to your special places

Watching all the puzzled faces

You in shorts and socks and sandals

Me with warts and huge love-handles


As the need for love enthralls

Wrestle with my damp proof smalls

Make me laugh without constraint

Buy me chocolate body paint


Hold me safe throughout the night

When my hair has turned to white

Believe me when I say it’s true

I’ve waited all my life for you


Extract from 'The Humans' by Matt Haig

You are lucky to be alive. Inhale and take in life’s wonders. Never take so much as a single petal of a single flower for granted.

Be alive. That is your supreme duty to the world.

Your life will have 25,000 days in it. Make sure you remember some of them.

If there is a sunset, stop and look at it. Knowledge is finite. Wonder is infinite.

Don’t worry about your abilities. You have the ability to love. That is enough.

Don’t aim for perfection. Evolution, and life, only happen through mistakes.

Don’t always try to be cool. The whole universe is cool. It’s the warm bits that matter.

Be nice to other people. At the universal level, they are you.

Kindness is always courage. But caring is what makes you human. Care more, become more human.

Your brain is open. Never let it be closed.

To like something is to insult it. Love it or hate it. Be passionate. As civilisation advances, so does indifference. It is a disease. Immunise yourself with art. And love.

A paradox. The things you don’t need to live – books, art, cinema, wine and so on – are the things you need to live.

Know this. Men are not from Mars. Women are not from Venus. Do not fall for categories. Everyone is everything. Every ingredient inside a star is inside you, and every personality that ever existed competes in the theatre of your mind for the main role.

You have the power to stop time. You do it by kissing. Or listening to music. Music, by the way, is how you see things you can’t otherwise see. It is the most advanced thing you have. It is a superpower.

At some point, bad things are going to happen. Have someone to hold on to.

Don’t ever be afraid of telling someone you love them. There are things wrong with the

world, but an excess of love is not one.

Laugh. It suits you.

I love you. Remember that.


Cover image by Dumitru Culiuc at www.imagestudio.com

145 views0 comments